Christianity, like sports, has impact players; Paul was example
“Play ball” are words I have been waiting to hear. Being a sports addict, along with having a grandson that plays baseball, gets me fired up and ready to watch. My lifelong love for the sport has not diminished with age. In my fantasy world I am still hitting home runs and pitching strikeouts for my favorite college team.
But one thing I have noticed over the years is that every successful team has an “impact player” or two. They are the “go-to” guys when you need the big hit or the “stopper” on the mound. In the realm of sports these type plays have always been around.
In 1934 Lou Gehrig was an impact player. He won the Triple Crown with a .363 batting average, 49 home runs and 165 runs batted in. Babe Ruth retired in 1935 with 714 home runs and 2,209 runs batted in. He, too, was an impact player.
The truth is that in all areas of life there are impact players. The sciences, the arts, and the religions of this world all have such men and women. Christianity also has its share of individuals who have profoundly influenced our way of life.
One such individual is Saul of Tarsus, whom we have come to know as the Apostle Paul. He was called to be a missionary to the Gentile nations taking to them the message of Jesus Christ’s love and forgiveness. Also, he authored many of the New Testament books. Outside Jesus Christ, this apostle has had the greatest impact on Christendom than any other human being.
For a sports figure to achieve “impact player” status there have been many hours of practice coupled with a strong desire to be the best they could possibly be. Each one has their own opinion as to what it was that got them to this elite status.
If we could ask the Apostle Paul, “What was it that drove you and made you such a powerful figure in your day?” somehow I think he would say that his life’s story could be summed up in the words he penned in Philippians 3:13-14, “Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
In these two short verses he shared with us two principles that would do us all good to master. First, he says, “I am not going to allow the decisions made yesterday to overly influence what I do today.” He stated that is something he needed to forget. Is that not true in all walks of life? Do we allow the baggage and garbage from days gone by to restrict us from experiencing the wonders of today?
Secondly, Paul stated that he is pressing towards a goal that was set for him by Christ.
This man was truly one of God’s “impact players.” But you can be and so can I. Perhaps when you hear the words, “Play ball!” you might ask, “How well am I doing in the most important game of all – the game of life?”
The Rev. Jimmy Porter is executive director-treasurer of the Mississippi Baptist Christian Action Commission.